Monty Python Pays Tribute to Terry Jones: Watch Their Montage of Jones’ Beloved Characters in Action

The actor, come­di­an, direc­tor, and medieval his­to­ri­an Ter­ry Jones passed away last week, but Mr. Cre­osote will nev­er die. Nor will any of the oth­er char­ac­ters por­trayed by Jones in his work with Mon­ty Python, the cul­ture-chang­ing com­e­dy troupe he co-found­ed with Eric Idle, John Cleese, Michael Palin, Gra­ham Chap­man, and Ter­ry Gilliam. You can get a sense of Jones’ range as a comedic per­former in the three-minute com­pi­la­tion above, which fea­tures a range of Jones’ char­ac­ters includ­ing the crunchy frog-deal­ing can­dy-shop own­er, the avi­a­tor-hel­met­ed Span­ish Inquisi­tor, one of the four York­shire­men, and of course, the Bish­op.

My own intro­duc­tion to Jones’ work came through the Spam wait­ress, a Mon­ty Python char­ac­ter beloved of many chil­dren not yet born when Mon­ty Python’s Fly­ing Cir­cus, the troupe’s BBC series, first ran in the late 1960s and ear­ly 70s.

Set in a din­er where near­ly every dish involves Spam as at least one ingre­di­ent, the sketch pokes fun at the cheap tinned meat’s per­sis­tence on British tables well after the aus­ter­i­ty of the Sec­ond World War, and more sub­tly at the even deep­er and longer-last­ing per­sis­tence of the British wartime mind­set. I nat­u­ral­ly knew lit­tle of all this when first I saw the Spam sketch, and had nev­er once tast­ed Spam itself, but Jones’ com­mit­ment to his char­ac­ter — and that char­ac­ter’s blithe seri­ous­ness about the word “Spam” — got me laugh­ing.

Gen­er­a­tions of chil­dren and adults alike will con­tin­ue to enjoy the Spam wait­ress, as well as all of Jones’ oth­er char­ac­ters and their often absurd inter­ac­tions with those played by the rest of the Pythons. And the more they learn about the troupe and its work, the more they’ll appre­ci­ate Jones’ spe­cial con­tri­bu­tions to its lega­cy. After co-direct­ing Mon­ty Python and the Holy Grail with Gilliam, he sin­gle­hand­ed­ly direct­ed the next two Python fea­tures, Life of Bri­an and The Mean­ing of Life. It was in that last film that Jones man­aged to bal­ance his direc­to­r­i­al duties with those of play­ing the colos­sal­ly obese, fre­quent­ly vom­it­ing Mr. Cre­osote, whose sheer glut­tony results in his explo­sion. So yes, tech­ni­cal­ly, Mr. Cre­osote did die — but every time we watch The Mean­ing of Life he lives, and we laugh, once again.

via Laugh­ing Squid

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Mon­ty Python’s Ter­ry Jones (RIP) Was a Come­di­an, But Also a Medieval His­to­ri­an: Get to Know His Oth­er Side

The His­to­ry & Lega­cy of Magna Car­ta Explained in Ani­mat­ed Videos by Mon­ty Python’s Ter­ry Jones

Mon­ty Python’s Best Phi­los­o­phy Sketch­es: “The Philoso­phers’ Foot­ball Match,” “Philosopher’s Drink­ing Song” & More

Ter­ry Gilliam Reveals the Secrets of Mon­ty Python Ani­ma­tions: A 1974 How-To Guide

Mon­ty Python’s Eric Idle Breaks Down His Most Icon­ic Char­ac­ters

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Take an Aerial Tour of Medieval Paris

Paris is named after the Parisii, a tribe of Celts who set­tled on a very strate­gic island in the mid­dle of the Seine some­time around 250 BC. With a wall and two bridges in and out, the set­tle­ment grew and–though con­quered by Romans, and threat­ened by all sorts includ­ing Atti­la the Hun–it evolved into the city of romance and rev­o­lu­tion.

This fas­ci­nat­ing fly-through of Paris cir­ca 1550 AD shows a city in tran­si­tion. Still very much a medieval town in cer­tain respects, it already has many of the land­marks tourists flock to even now.

It begins just out­side the abbey of Saint-Ger­main-des-Prés, found­ed in the 6th Cen­tu­ry, and goes down the Seine towards the Palais de la Cité, and under the Pont Saint-Michel. Hous­es were built along the bridges like this until the 18th and 19th cen­turies.

There’s time to linger on Notre Dame cathe­dral, and to note that the famed flèche, the spire that was lost in 2019’s fire, had yet to be built. (There is debate in the com­ments about whether the spire in the video is his­tor­i­cal­ly inac­cu­rate, whether there was any spire at that time, or whether the spire depict­ed is the cor­rect one.) Anoth­er cir­cle of the Palais and past Sainte-Chapelle until a street lev­el diver­sion into the bustling Right Bank along the Pont aux Meu­niers, a bridge that no longer exists (it col­lapsed in 1596, was rebuilt, and dis­ap­peared one final time in a 1621 fire).

The Renais­sance was just around the cor­ner, and this glimpse of Paris on the cusp of urban­iza­tion is fas­ci­nat­ing in its CGI-gen­er­at­ed fin de siè­cle (to bor­row a phrase).

The city has always been evolving–for those inter­est­ed, there is a longer 3‑D tour of Paris through its his­to­ry. While this Mid­dle Ages excur­sion con­tains some famil­iar archi­tec­ture, the Roman years (when Paris was known as Lute­tia) fea­ture many large struc­tures that sim­ply do not exist any more. It is yet anoth­er reminder that noth­ing lasts for­ev­er, not even build­ings made of the finest stone.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Pris­tine Footage Lets You Revis­it Life in Paris in the 1890s: Watch Footage Shot by the Lumière Broth­ers

Paris in Beau­ti­ful Col­or Images from 1890: The Eif­fel Tow­er, Notre Dame, The Pan­théon, and More (1890)

A Vir­tu­al Time-Lapse Recre­ation of the Build­ing of Notre Dame (1160)

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the artist inter­view-based FunkZone Pod­cast and is the pro­duc­er of KCR­W’s Curi­ous Coast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, read his oth­er arts writ­ing at and/or watch his films here.

Crowd Breaks into Singing Bon Jovi in the Park: The Power of Music in 46 Seconds

Hope you enjoy your week­end…

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

via Twist­ed Sifter

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A His­to­ry of Rock ‘n’ Roll in 100 Riffs

Ital­ian Street Musi­cian Plays Amaz­ing Cov­ers of Pink Floyd Songs, Right in Front of the Pan­theon in Rome

Icon­ic Songs Played by Musi­cians Around the World: “Stand by Me,” “Redemp­tion Song,” “Rip­ple” & More


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Akira Kurosawa’s List of His 100 Favorite Movies

In movies like Sev­en Samu­rai and High and Low, direc­tor Aki­ra Kuro­sawa took the cin­e­mat­ic lan­guage of Hol­ly­wood and improved on it, cre­at­ing a vig­or­ous, mus­cu­lar method of visu­al sto­ry­telling that became a styl­is­tic play­book for the likes of Mar­tin Scors­ese, George Lucas and Fran­cis Ford Cop­po­la. In movies like Ikiru, The Bad Sleep Well and The Low­er Depths, Kuro­sawa relent­less­ly strug­gled to find the rays of light among the shad­ows of the human soul. This philo­soph­i­cal urgency com­bined with his visu­al bril­liance is what gives his work, espe­cial­ly his ear­ly films, such vital­i­ty.

“One thing that dis­tin­guish­es Aki­ra Kuro­sawa is that he didn’t just make a mas­ter­piece or two mas­ter­pieces,” Cop­po­la said dur­ing an inter­view. “He made eight mas­ter­pieces.”

So when Kuro­sawa comes out with a rec­om­mend­ed view­ing list, movie mavens every­where should take note. Such a list was pub­lished in his posthu­mous­ly pub­lished book Yume wa ten­sai de aru (A Dream is a Genius). His daugh­ter Kazuko Kuro­sawa described the list’s selec­tion process:

My father always said that the films he loved were too many to count, and to make a top ten rank. That explains why you can­not find in this list many of the titles of the films he regard­ed as won­der­ful. The prin­ci­ple of the choice is: one film for one direc­tor, entry of the unfor­get­table films about which I and my father had a love­ly talk, and of some ideas on cin­e­ma that he had cher­ished but did not express in pub­lic. This is the way I made a list of 100 films of Kurosawa’s choice.

Orga­nized chrono­log­i­cal­ly, the list starts with D.W. Griffith’s Bro­ken Blos­soms and ends with Takeshi Kitano’s Hana-Bi. In between is a remark­ably thor­ough and diverse col­lec­tion of films, mix­ing in equal parts Hol­ly­wood, art house and Japan­ese clas­sics. Many of the movies are exact­ly the ones you would see on any Film Stud­ies 101 syl­labus — Truffaut’s 400 Blows, Car­ol Reed’s The Third Man and DeSica’s Bicy­cle Thieves. Oth­er films are less expect­ed. Hayao Miyazaki’s utter­ly won­der­ful My Neigh­bor Totoro makes the cut, as does Ishi­ro Hon­da’s Goji­ra and Peter Weir’s Wit­ness. His pol­i­cy of one film per direc­tor yields some sur­pris­ing, almost will­ful­ly per­verse results. The God­fa­ther, Part 2 over The God­fa­ther? The King of Com­e­dy over Good­fel­las? Ivan the Ter­ri­ble over Bat­tle­ship Potemkin? The Birds over Ver­ti­go? Bar­ry Lyn­don over pret­ty much any­thing else that Stan­ley Kubrick did? And while I am pleased that Mikio Naruse gets a nod for Ukigu­mo – in a just world, Naruse would be as read­i­ly praised and cel­e­brat­ed as his con­tem­po­raries Yasu­jiro Ozu and Ken­ji Mizoguchi – I am also struck by the list’s most glar­ing, and curi­ous, omis­sion. There’s no Orson Welles.

You can see his 100 essen­tial movies below. Above we have the sec­ond film on the list, The Cab­i­net of Dr. Cali­gari, which you can oth­er­wise find in our col­lec­tion, 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More.

1. Bro­ken Blos­soms or The Yel­low Man and the Girl (Grif­fith, 1919) USA
2. Das Cab­i­net des Dr. Cali­gari [The Cab­i­net of Dr. Cali­gari] (Wiene, 1920) Ger­many
3. Dr. Mabuse, der Spiel­er – Ein Bild der Zeit (Part 1Part 2) [Dr. Mabuse, the Gam­bler] (Lang, 1922) Ger­many
4. The Gold Rush (Chap­lin, 1925) USA
5. La Chute de la Mai­son Ush­er [The Fall of the House of Ush­er] (Jean Epstein, 1928) France
6. Un Chien Andalou [An Andalu­sian Dog] (Bunuel, 1928) France
7. Moroc­co (von Stern­berg, 1930) USA
8. Der Kongress Tanzt (Charell, 1931) Ger­many
9. Die 3groschenoper [The Three­pen­ny Opera] (Pab­st, 1931) Ger­many
10. Leise Fle­hen Meine Lieder [Lover Divine] (Forst, 1933) Austria/Germany
11. The Thin Man (Dyke, 1934) USA
12. Tonari no Yae-chan [My Lit­tle Neigh­bour, Yae] (Shi­mazu, 1934) Japan
13. Tange Sazen yowa: Hyaku­man ryo no tsubo [Sazen Tange and the Pot Worth a Mil­lion Ryo] (Yamana­ka, 1935) Japan
14. Akan­ishi Kaki­ta [Capri­cious Young Men] (Ita­mi, 1936) Japan
15. La Grande Illu­sion [The Grand Illu­sion] (Renoir, 1937) France
16. Stel­la Dal­las (Vidor, 1937) USA
17. Tsuzurika­ta Kyoshit­su [Lessons in Essay] (Yamamo­to, 1938) Japan
18. Tsuchi [Earth] (Uchi­da, 1939) Japan
19. Ninotch­ka (Lubitsch, 1939) USA
20. Ivan Groznyy I, Ivan Groznyy II: Boyarsky Zagov­or [Ivan the Ter­ri­ble Parts I and II] (Eisen­stein, 1944–46) Sovi­et Union
21. My Dar­ling Clemen­tine (Ford, 1946) USA
22. It’s a Won­der­ful Life (Capra, 1946) USA
23. The Big Sleep (Hawks, 1946) USA
24. Ladri di Bici­clette [The Bicy­cle Thief] [Bicy­cle Thieves] (De Sica, 1948) Italy
25. Aoi san­myaku [The Green Moun­tains] (Imai, 1949) Japan
26. The Third Man (Reed, 1949) UK
27. Ban­shun [Late Spring] (Ozu, 1949) Japan
28. Orpheus (Cocteau, 1949) France
29. Karu­men kokyo ni kaeru [Car­men Comes Home] (Kinoshi­ta, 1951) Japan
30. A Street­car Named Desire (Kazan, 1951) USA
31. Thérèse Raquin [The Adul­tress] (Carne 1953) France
32. Saikaku ichidai onna [The Life of Oharu] (Mizoguchi, 1952) Japan
33. Viag­gio in Italia [Jour­ney to Italy] (Rosselli­ni, 1953) Italy
34. Goji­ra [Godzil­la] (Hon­da, 1954) Japan
35. La Stra­da (Felli­ni, 1954) Italy
36. Ukigu­mo [Float­ing Clouds] (Naruse, 1955) Japan
37. Pather Pan­chali [Song of the Road] (Ray, 1955) India
38. Dad­dy Long Legs (Neg­ule­sco, 1955) USA
39. The Proud Ones (Webb, 1956) USA
40. Baku­mat­su taiy­o­den [Sun in the Last Days of the Shogu­nate] (Kawashima, 1957) Japan
41. The Young Lions (Dmytryk, 1957) USA
42. Les Cousins [The Cousins] (Chabrol, 1959) France
43. Les Quarte Cents Coups [The 400 Blows] (Truf­faut, 1959) France
44. A bout de Souf­fle [Breath­less] (Godard, 1959) France
45. Ben-Hur (Wyler, 1959) USA
46. Oto­to [Her Broth­er] (Ichikawa, 1960) Japan
47. Une aus­si longue absence [The Long Absence] (Colpi, 1960) France/Italy
48. Le Voy­age en Bal­lon [Stow­away in the Sky] (Lam­or­isse, 1960) France
49. Plein Soleil [Pur­ple Noon] (Clement, 1960) France/Italy
50. Zazie dans le métro [Zazie on the Subway](Malle, 1960) France/Italy
51. L’Annee derniere a Marien­bad [Last Year in Marien­bad] (Resnais, 1960) France/Italy
52. What Ever Hap­pened to Baby Jane? (Aldrich, 1962) USA
53. Lawrence of Ara­bia (Lean, 1962) UK
54. Melodie en sous-sol [Any Num­ber Can Win] (Verneuil, 1963) France/Italy
55. The Birds (Hitch­cock, 1963) USA
56. Il Deser­to Rosso [The Red Desert](Antonioni, 1964) Italy/France
57. Who’s Afraid of Vir­ginia Woolf? (Nichols, 1966) USA
58. Bon­nie and Clyde (Penn, 1967) USA
59. In the Heat of the Night (Jew­i­son, 1967) USA
60. The Charge of the Light Brigade (Richard­son, 1968) UK
61. Mid­night Cow­boy (Schlesinger, 1969) USA
62. MASH (Alt­man, 1970) USA
63. John­ny Got His Gun (Trum­bo, 1971) USA
64. The French Con­nec­tion (Fried­kin, 1971) USA
65. El espíritu de la col­me­na [Spir­it of the Bee­hive] (Erice, 1973) Spain
66. Sol­yaris [Solaris] (Tarkovsky, 1972) Sovi­et Union
67. The Day of the Jack­al (Zin­ne­man, 1973) UK/France
68. Grup­po di famiglia in un inter­no [Con­ver­sa­tion Piece] (Vis­con­ti, 1974) Italy/France
69. The God­fa­ther Part II (Cop­po­la, 1974) USA
70. San­dakan hachiban­shokan bohkyo [San­dakan 8] (Kumai, 1974) Japan
71. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (For­man, 1975) USA
72. O, Thi­as­sos [The Trav­el­ling Play­ers] (Angelopou­los, 1975) Greece
73. Bar­ry Lyn­don (Kubrick, 1975) UK
74. Daichi no komo­ri­u­ta [Lul­la­by of the Earth] (Masumu­ra, 1976) Japan
75. Annie Hall (Allen, 1977) USA
76. Neokonchen­naya pye­sa dlya mekhanich­esko­go piani­no [Unfin­ished Piece for Mechan­i­cal Piano] (Mikhalkov, 1977) Sovi­et Union
77. Padre Padrone [My Father My Mas­ter] (P. & V. Taviani, 1977) Italy
78. Glo­ria (Cas­savetes, 1980) USA
79. Haruka­naru yama no yobi­goe [A Dis­tant Cry From Spring] (Yama­da, 1980) Japan
80. La Travi­a­ta (Zef­firelli, 1982) Italy
81. Fan­ny och Alexan­der [Fan­ny and Alexan­der] (Bergman, 1982) Sweden/France/West Ger­many
82. Fitz­car­ral­do (Her­zog, 1982) Peru/West Ger­many
83. The King of Com­e­dy (Scors­ese, 1983) USA
84. Mer­ry Christ­mas Mr. Lawrence (Oshi­ma, 1983) UK/Japan/New Zealand
85. The Killing Fields (Joffe 1984) UK
86. Stranger Than Par­adise (Jar­musch, 1984) USA/ West Ger­many
87. Dong­dong de Jiaqi [A Sum­mer at Grand­pa’s] (Hou, 1984) Tai­wan
88. Paris, Texas (Wen­ders, 1984) France/ West Ger­many
89. Wit­ness (Weir, 1985) USA
90. The Trip to Boun­ti­ful (Mas­ter­son, 1985) USA
91. Otac na sluzbenom putu [When Father was Away on Busi­ness] (Kus­turi­ca, 1985) Yugoslavia
92. The Dead (Hus­ton, 1987) UK/Ireland/USA
93. Khane-ye doust kod­jast? [Where is the Friend’s Home] (Kiarosta­mi, 1987) Iran
94. Bagh­dad Cafe [Out of Rosen­heim] (Adlon, 1987) West Germany/USA
95. The Whales of August (Ander­son, 1987) USA
96. Run­ning on Emp­ty (Lumet, 1988) USA
97. Tonari no totoro [My Neigh­bour Totoro] (Miyaza­ki, 1988) Japan
98. A un [Bud­dies] (Furuha­ta, 1989) Japan
99. La Belle Noiseuse [The Beau­ti­ful Trou­ble­mak­er] (Riv­ette, 1991) France/Switzerland
100. Hana-bi [Fire­works] (Kitano, 1997) Japan

Note: An ear­li­er ver­sion of this post appeared on our site in Jan­u­ary 2015.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

How Did Aki­ra Kuro­sawa Make Such Pow­er­ful & Endur­ing Films? A Wealth of Video Essays Break Down His Cin­e­mat­ic Genius

David Lynch Lists His Favorite Films & Direc­tors, Includ­ing Felli­ni, Wilder, Tati & Hitch­cock

Andrei Tarkovsky Cre­ates a List of His 10 Favorite Films (1972)

Stan­ley Kubrick’s List of Top 10 Films (The First and Only List He Ever Cre­at­ed)

Aki­ra Kuro­sawa & Fran­cis Ford Cop­po­la Star in Japan­ese Whisky Com­mer­cials (1980)

Jonathan Crow is a Los Ange­les-based writer and film­mak­er whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veep­to­pus, fea­tur­ing lots of pic­tures of bad­gers and even more pic­tures of vice pres­i­dents with octo­pus­es on their heads.  The Veep­to­pus store is here.

Evelyn Waugh’s “Victorian Blood Book”: A Most Strange & Macabre Illustrated Book

Most U.S. read­ers come to know Eve­lyn Waugh as the “seri­ous” writer of the saga Brideshead Revis­it­ed (and inspir­er of the 1981 minis­eries adap­ta­tion). This was also the case in 1954, when Charles Rolo wrote in the pages of The Atlantic that the nov­el “sold many more copies in the Unit­ed States than all of Waugh’s oth­er books put togeth­er.” Yet “among the lit­er­ary,” Waugh’s name evokes “a sin­gu­lar brand of com­ic genius… a riotous­ly anar­chic cos­mos, in which only the out­ra­geous can happen—and when it does hap­pen is out­ra­geous­ly divert­ing.”

The com­ic Waugh’s imag­i­na­tion “runs to… appalling and macabre inven­tions,” incor­po­rat­ing a “lunatic log­ic.” The sources of that imag­i­na­tion now reside at the Har­ry Ran­som Cen­ter at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas, Austin, who hold Waugh’s man­u­scripts and 3,500-volume library.

The nov­el­ist, the Ran­som Cen­ter notes, “was an invet­er­ate col­lec­tor of things Vic­to­ri­an (and well ahead of most of his con­tem­po­raries in this regard). Undoubt­ed­ly the sin­gle most curi­ous object in the entire library is a large oblong folio decoupage book, often referred to as the ‘Vic­to­ri­an Blood Book.’”

Waugh deeply admired Vic­to­ri­an art, and espe­cial­ly “those nine­teenth-cen­tu­ry ene­mies of tech­nol­o­gy, the Pre-Raphaelites,” writes Rolo. Still, like us, he may have looked upon scrap­books like these as bizarre and mor­bid­ly humor­ous, if also pos­sessed by an unset­tling beau­ty. (One 2008 cat­a­logue described them as “weird” and “rather ele­gant but very scary.”) More than any­thing, they resem­ble the kind of thing a goth teenag­er raised on Mon­ty Python and Emi­ly Dick­in­son might put togeth­er in her bed­room late at night. Such an artist would be car­ry­ing on a long “cher­ished tra­di­tion.”

“Vic­to­ri­an scrap­book­ing,” the Ran­som Cen­ter writes, “was almost exclu­sive­ly the province of women,” a way of orga­niz­ing infor­ma­tion, although “the esthet­ic aspect” could some­times be “sec­ondary.” The “Vic­to­ri­an Blood Book,” how­ev­er, is the work of a pater­fa­mil­ias named John Bin­g­ley Gar­land, “a pros­per­ous Vic­to­ri­an busi­ness­man who moved to New­found­land, went on to become speak­er of its first Par­lia­ment, and returned to Stone Cot­tage in Dorset to end his days.”

Inscribed to Bin­g­ley’s daugh­ter Amy on Sep­tem­ber 1, 1854, the book seems to have been a wed­ding present, made with seri­ous devo­tion­al intent:

How does one “read” such an enig­mat­ic object? We under­stand­ably find ele­ments of the grotesque and sur­re­al. But our eyes view it dif­fer­ent­ly from Vic­to­ri­an ones. As Gar­land’s descen­dants have writ­ten, “our fam­i­ly does­n’t refer to…‘the Blood Book;’ we refer to it as ‘Amy’s Gift’ and in no way see it as any­thing oth­er than a pre­cious reminder of the love of fam­i­ly and Our Lord.”

The “Blood Book“ ‘s actu­al title appears to have been Duren­stein!, which is the Aus­tri­an cas­tle where Richard the Lion­heart­ed was impris­oned. Assem­bled from hun­dreds of engrav­ings, many by William Blake, it appar­ent­ly depicts “the spir­i­tu­al bat­tles encoun­tered by Chris­tians along the path of life and the ‘blood’ to Chris­t­ian sac­ri­fice.” The “blood” is red India ink. The quo­ta­tions sur­round­ing each col­lage, accord­ing to the Gar­land fam­i­ly “are encour­ag­ing one to turn to God as our Sav­iour.”

One can imag­ine the “seri­ous” Waugh look­ing on this strange object with almost rev­er­en­tial affec­tion. He lapsed into a high­ly affect­ed, reac­tionary nos­tal­gia in his lat­er peri­od, announc­ing him­self “two hun­dred years” behind the times. One con­tem­po­rary declared, “He grows more old-fash­ioned every day.” But the sav­age­ly com­ic Waugh would not have been able to approach such a bizarre piece of folk col­lage art with­out an eye toward its use as mate­r­i­al for his own “appalling and macabre inven­tions.”

See a full scanned copy of the “Vic­to­ri­an Blood Book,” and down­load high-res­o­lu­tion images, online at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas, Austin’s Har­ry Ran­som Cen­ter.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

19th-Cen­tu­ry Skele­ton Alarm Clock Remind­ed Peo­ple Dai­ly of the Short­ness of Life: An Intro­duc­tion to the Memen­to Mori

Browse The Mag­i­cal Worlds of Har­ry Houdini’s Scrap­books

A Wit­ty Dic­tio­nary of Vic­to­ri­an Slang (1909)

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

Why the Soviets Doctored Their Most Iconic World War II Victory Photo, “Raising a Flag Over the Reichstag”

No pho­to­graph sym­bol­izes Amer­i­can vic­to­ry more rec­og­niz­ably than Joe Rosen­thal’s Pulitzer Prize-win­ning Rais­ing the Flag on Iwo Jima. Tak­en on Feb­ru­ary 23, 1945, it shows six U.S. Marines rais­ing their coun­try’s flag dur­ing the bat­tle — a bloody one even by the stan­dards of the Sec­ond World War — for con­trol of that Japan­ese island. The Sovi­et Union had an equiv­a­lent image: Yevge­ny Khaldei’s Rais­ing a Flag over the Reich­stag, which shows a Russ­ian sol­dier rais­ing the Sovi­et flag on the roof of the for­mer Ger­man par­lia­ment on May 2, 1945, dur­ing the Bat­tle of Berlin. The sim­i­lar­i­ties are obvi­ous, but the dif­fer­ence isn’t: the Sovi­et pho­to was faked.

To be more spe­cif­ic, Khaldei’s pic­ture was “staged,” and “parts of it were altered before it was pub­lished.” So says Vox’s Cole­man Lown­des in the video above, which reveals all the pre-Pho­to­shop image manip­u­la­tion — a spe­cial­ty of Sovi­et pro­pa­gan­dists even then —  per­formed on Rais­ing a Flag over the Reich­stag.

“Khaldei super­im­posed some black smoke from anoth­er pho­to and manip­u­lat­ed the con­trast to give the scene a lit­tle more dra­ma,” which in itself may be an under­stand­able choice. But he also erased the wrist­watch of one of the sol­diers brought in to pose with the flag, a detail you might not notice even hold­ing the orig­i­nal and the doc­tored ver­sion side by side. As Lown­des explains, “The sol­dier sup­port­ing the flag-bear­er was wear­ing two watch­es, sug­gest­ing he had been loot­ing, a stain that did­n’t fit the image of Sovi­et hero­ism that Stal­in want­ed.”

A look at the pre­ced­ing few years of the war goes some way to explain­ing this. Ger­many had bru­tal­ly invad­ed Rus­sia in 1941, instill­ing in Rus­sia a thirst for revenge that began to seem satiable when the tables began to turn on Ger­many the fol­low­ing year. In and on their way to Ger­many, the Red Army, too, com­mit­ted crimes against the civil­ians in their path, loot­ing sure­ly being among the least of them. Rais­ing a Flag over the Reich­stag does its job in cap­tur­ing a moment of Sovi­et vic­to­ry, but as Lown­des says, “it also cap­tures, and then con­ceals, a sto­ry of vengeance and mutu­al bru­tal­i­ty, of mur­der, orga­nized destruc­tion, and pil­lag­ing, all cul­mi­nat­ing in this icon­ic moment.” And the more icon­ic the moment, the more poten­tial­ly rev­e­la­to­ry its details — even more so in the case of false ones.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Long Before Pho­to­shop, the Sovi­ets Mas­tered the Art of Eras­ing Peo­ple from Pho­tographs — and His­to­ry Too

Joseph Stal­in, a Life­long Edi­tor, Wield­ed a Big, Blue, Dan­ger­ous Pen­cil

The His­to­ry of Rus­sia in 70,000 Pho­tos: New Pho­to Archive Presents Russ­ian His­to­ry from 1860 to 1999

Down­load 437 Issues of Sovi­et Pho­to Mag­a­zine, the Sovi­et Union’s His­toric Pho­tog­ra­phy Jour­nal (1926–1991)

The First Faked Pho­to­graph (1840)

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Scorsese’s The Irishman in the Context of his Oeuvre–Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #29 Featuring Colin Marshall

What dis­tin­guish­es the high­ly laud­ed 2019 film The Irish­man with­in direc­tor Mar­tin Scors­ese’s body of work? Fre­quent Open Cul­ture con­trib­u­tor Col­in Mar­shall joins Mark Lin­sen­may­er, Eri­ca Spyres, and Bri­an Hirt to talk about what we do and don’t con­nect with in Scors­ese’s work and how these films qual­i­fy as “art films” despite their watch­a­bil­i­ty, not to men­tion the big bud­gets and stars.

We cov­er CGI age alter­ation, the con­nec­tion to The Jok­er, his com­ments about the Mar­vel fran­chise vs. him being a fran­chise unto him­self, his use of music, and mak­ing films as an old guy. We hit par­tic­u­lar­ly on Rag­ing Bull, Taxi Dri­ver, Bring­ing out the Dead, The King of Com­e­dy, Good­fel­las, Gangs of New York,  The Depart­ed, Casi­no, Silence, and Cape Fear. (There are no sig­nif­i­cant spoil­ers about any of these oth­er films, just The Irish­man.)

Beyond just watch­ing or re-watch­ing a lot of films, here are some arti­cles we used to prep:

Col­in rec­om­mends the books Easy Rid­ers, Rag­ing Bulls, Scors­ese on Scors­ese, and Gang­ster Priest: The Ital­ian Amer­i­can Cin­e­ma of Mar­tin Scors­ese. Read Col­in’s Open Cul­ture arti­cles on Scors­ese. Also, Col­in reviews The Par­tial­ly Exam­ined Life in 2012.

Here’s that clip from Sin­gles about “the next Mar­tin Scorseeze.” Here’s Peter Boyle in Taxi Dri­ver giv­ing “Wiz­ard” advice. Watch Abed in Com­mu­ni­ty con­sid­er whether Nico­las Cage is good or bad.

This episode includes bonus dis­cus­sion that you can only hear by sup­port­ing the pod­cast at This pod­cast is part of the Par­tial­ly Exam­ined Life pod­cast net­work.

Pret­ty Much Pop: A Cul­ture Pod­cast is the first pod­cast curat­ed by Open Cul­ture. Browse all Pret­ty Much Pop posts or start with the first episode.

How the Psychedelic Mellotron Works: An In-Depth Demonstration

Record­ed music his­to­ry is filled with instru­ments that appeared for a brief time, then were nev­er heard from again—relegated to the dust­bin of too-quirky, heavy, awk­ward, tonal­ly-unpleas­ant, or impos­si­ble-to-tune-and-main­tain. Then there are instruments—once they assumed their basic shape and form—that have per­sist­ed large­ly unchanged for cen­turies. The Mel­lotron falls into nei­ther of these cat­e­gories. But it may in time tran­scend them both in a strange way.

“Of all of the strange instru­ments that’ve worked the edges of pop­u­lar music,” writes Gareth Bran­wyn at Boing Boing, “the Mel­lotron is prob­a­bly the odd­est. Basi­cal­ly an upright organ cab­i­net filled the tape heads and record­ed tape strips that you trig­ger through the key­board, the Mel­lotron is like some crazy one-off con­trap­tion that caught on and actu­al­ly got man­u­fac­tured.”

First made in Eng­land in 1963, it appeared in var­i­ous mod­els through­out the sev­en­ties and eight­ies. It has reap­peared in the nineties and 2000s in improved and upgrad­ed ver­sions, all lead­ing up to what Sound on Sound called “the most tech­no­log­i­cal­ly sophis­ti­cat­ed Mel­lotron ever,” the 2007 M4000. In the video above Alli­son Stout from Bell Tone Synth Works, a music shop in Philadel­phia, PA, demon­strates a much ear­li­er, far less advanced M400 from 1976.

Not only did the Mel­lotron beat the odds of remain­ing an unwork­able pro­to­type; the pro­to-sam­pler became a psy­che­del­ic sig­na­ture: from “Straw­ber­ry Fields For­ev­er” to the Moody Blues and David Bowie’s “Space Odd­i­ty.” It pop­u­lat­ed ear­ly prog rock, thanks to Yes’s Rick Wake­man, who played on Bowie’s space rock clas­sic in 1969, and to Ian McDon­ald, who fell for the instru­ment that same year as a found­ing mem­ber of King Crim­son. (See enthu­si­as­tic YouTu­ber “Doc­tor Mix” play Mel­lotron parts from well-known songs above.)

The instrument’s slight­ly cheesy, Lawrence-Welk-orches­tra-like sounds some­how fit per­fect­ly with the loose, spa­cious instru­men­ta­tion of prog and psych rock; its sound will live as long as the music of The Bea­t­les, Bowie, and every­one else who put a micro­phone in front of a Mel­lotron. Yet in most of its iter­a­tions, the Mel­lotron has lacked the char­ac­ter­is­tics of a melod­ic instru­ment that sur­vives the test of time. It is finicky and prone to fre­quent break­downs. It is lim­it­ed in its tonal range to a series of tape record­ings of a lim­it­ed num­ber of instru­ments.

In the case of the Mel­lotron M400 at the top, those instru­ments are vio­lin, flute, and cel­lo. Do the sounds com­ing from the Mel­lotron in any way improve upon or even approx­i­mate the qual­i­ties of their orig­i­nals? Of course not. Why would musi­cians choose to record with a Mel­lotron at a time when ana­logue syn­the­siz­ers were becom­ing afford­able, portable, and capa­ble of an expres­sive range of tones? The answer is sim­ple. Noth­ing else makes the weird, warm, war­bly, whirring, and entire­ly oth­er­world­ly sound of a Mel­lotron, and noth­ing ever will.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Intro­duc­ing the Mel­lotron: A Groovy 1965 Demon­stra­tion of the “Musi­cal Com­put­er” Used by The Bea­t­les, Moody Blues & Oth­er Psy­che­del­ic Pop Artists

Rick Wake­man Tells the Sto­ry of the Mel­lotron, the Odd­ball Pro­to-Syn­the­siz­er Pio­neered by the Bea­t­les

Vis­it an Online Col­lec­tion of 61,761 Musi­cal Instru­ments from Across the World

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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